Philips Lighting of the Netherlands is now offering Light Fidelity (LiFi), a technology where high quality LED lighting delivers a broadband Internet connection through light waves. And in other Philips Lighting news with timing that is probably not coincidental, the company has announced its intention to change its name to Signify.
The technology, which was first pioneered by Professor Herald Haas, has remained mainly theoretical as no global companies have launched products with analogous technology until now. Philips Lighting says it developed its own LiFi technology and has protected that technology with several patents.
As an Internet of Things pioneer, Philips Lighting is the first international lighting company to sell LiFi-enabled LED luminaires from its existing portfolio of office lighting. The company is now offering PowerBalance gen2 and Philips LuxSpace downlight luminaires equipped with LiFi capabilities.
“LiFi has enormous potential for today’s digital age and as the world’s leading lighting company we are proud to pioneer new and innovative services for our customers,” said Olivia Qiu, Chief Innovation Officer, Philips Lighting.
“While radio frequencies are becoming congested, the visible light spectrum is an untapped resource with a large bandwidth suitable for the stable simultaneous connection of a vast array of Internet of Things devices. Being a lighting company, we ensure that our customers benefit from the finest quality energy efficient light along with state-of-the-art connectivity,” she added.
Broadband Internet connection and quality illumination together
LiFi operates as a two-way, high-speed wireless communication technology similar to WiFi that uses light waves instead of radio waves for transmitting data. Philips Lighting says its office luminaires equipped with LiFi technology can deliver broadband connection with a speed of 30 Mb per second (Mb/s) without jeopardizing lighting quality. The slight modulations of light intensity that encode the digital information are virtually imperceptible to humans.
According to the company, the 30Mb/s speed is enough to let a user simultaneously stream several HD quality videos while conducting video calls.
How LiFi Works
A LiFi USB key/dongle plugged into the socket of a laptop or tablet detects the light signal from the LiFi-equipped luminaires. (in the future such technology will be built into laptops and devices). The LiFi USB dongle returns data to the luminaire through an infrared link using sensors built into the LiFi enable luminaires. With Philips LiFi-enabled luminaires, customers get the double benefit of quality, energy-efficient LED light and a highly secure, stable and robust connection.
Philips Lighting points out that LiFi offers several advantages of WiFi. First, LiFi can be used in locations where radio frequencies may interfere with equipment, such as in hospitals.
Secondly, LiFi can work in areas that WiFi signals cannot reach or are weak, including underground.
Finally, LiFi is more secure than WiFi because unlike RF signals that can go through walls, line of sight is required to access the network.This enables LiFi to add a layer of security for applications demanding high security including the back office of a financial institution or government service.
Futurists include the technology’s main pioneer Herald Haas have envisioned the use of LiFi to help companies have enough bandwidth for the anticipated population boom of Internet-connected devices with their data communication needs. For these reasons, Icade, a French real estate investment firm, has chosen to pilot test the technology in its smart office in La Defense, Paris. The
“LiFi has the potential to be a real game-changer in offices. As the leader in our market, we wanted to explore the possibilities of this technology for existing and future clients. We plan to showcase the technology in our smart office in La Defense, so aside from stable connectivity, light quality is crucial to us,” said Emmanuelle Baboulin, head of the Commercial Property Investment Division at Icade.
125 Year-old Company, Philips Lighting Intends to Change its Name to Signify
The company noted in a news release about the intended name change, “The choice of our new company name originates from the fact that light becomes an intelligent language, which connects and conveys meaning.”
As Signify, the company will continue to use the Philips brand under the existing licensing agreement with Royal Philips.
“We’re excited to announce our new company name as another step in our transformation journey,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting. “Our new company name is a clear expression of our strategic vision and a fabulous opportunity to introduce a new corporate look and feel that is uniquely our own and will serve to further unite our 32,000 employees. At the same time, we remain proud to continue to use the Philips brand on our products.”
The company pointed out that Philips Lighting leads the lighting industry worldwide in conventional, LED and connected lighting, with the largest connected lighting network in the world.
Apparently, the name change was contractually required under the Company Name License agreement with Royal Philips. This agreement stipulated that the company had to change its name less than 18 months after Royal Philips no longer held a controlling interest in the firm.
In view of the company’s intended renaming to Signify, a proposal to amend the articles of association of Philips Lighting N.V. will be submitted to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 15. The Philips Lighting N.V. stock exchange ticker will remain (Euronext: LIGHT).